FITCHBURG, Wis. –The public is invited to share their comments on the preliminary vision and goal statements and three draft conceptual alternatives prepared by Department of Natural Resources planners for future development and operation of the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, formerly known as the Badger Army Ammunition Plant located between Baraboo and Sauk City.
A public open house is set for July 31 from 5 – 7:30 p.m. at the River Arts Center, 105 Ninth St., Prairie du Sac.
The open house agenda is as follows:
5 to 6 p.m.: Open house where the public can ask questions and leave their comments
6 – 6:15 p.m.: A short presentation
6:15 – 7:30 p.m.: Resume open house
Written comments can also be submitted to Diane Brusoe, 101 S Webster St., Madison, WI 53709 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submitting comments is 4:30 p.m., Aug. 30, 2013.
Information that will be presented at the public meeting is available on the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area master planning webpage (dnr.wi.gov, search Sauk Prairie Recreation Area).
This early, extra, step in the master planning process blends together public comments, findings from a 2012 regional and property analysis, and key values from the 2001 Badger Reuse Plan. Ultimately, the state Natural Resources Board will be asked to adopt a master plan that will guide operation of the property over the next 15 years.
“The opportunity to transform Badger into a new 3,800-acre state recreation area adjacent Devil’s Lake State Park and the Wisconsin River is unique and has garnered widespread public interest in the possibilities,” said Mark Aquino, DNR south central region director. “Putting out this range of conceptual alternatives for public comment is an extra step in the master planning process, a step we’re taking to be sure everyone has multiple opportunities to share in the plan’s development.”
The draft conceptual alternatives have been organized into three groupings, one with an emphasis on ecological restoration, one with an emphasis on outdoor recreation and a third “no action” alternative required by state law.
Officials stress that the ecological and recreational groupings are not all or nothing choices and that the comments received will be factored into the next step in the process, writing of a draft master plan.
“Given the range of possibilities this property offers, the draft master plan will likely have a mix of elements taken from each of the conceptual alternatives,” said Diane Brusoe, the DNR planner who is coordinating drafting of the master plan.
“We will put the draft master plan out for public comment again before we present anything to the Natural Resources Board,” says Aquino, “and the board will hear comment directly before acting.”
Alternative 1: No action
The property will have limited public access for the nature based outdoor activities of hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking and cross country skiing. Public access to cemeteries on the property will be maintained. No additional funding will be spent on restoration or property development. Any structures or debris left on the property at the time of the land transfer will remain. The department will restrict access if there are any public safety concerns.
Alternative 2: Ecological restoration emphasis
Under this management alternative, the primary emphasis is on restoration work of the grassland ecosystem. A variety of management tools will be used to maintain grassland and savanna. No development is proposed, and access will be limited to pedestrian use. Most remaining infrastructure, buildings and debris would be removed. Visitors would enjoy a perceived remoteness and quiet. Recreation opportunities will be limited to the nature based outdoor activities of hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and cross country skiing. There would be limited vehicle access and no permanent DNR staff stationed at the location, interaction with DNR staff would be limited. Volunteers would promote community participation in educational activities.
Alternative 3: Outdoor recreation emphasis
Under this management alternative, the primary purpose is getting users onto the property. Visitors would be offered a variety of outdoor recreational experiences while providing interpretive and educational opportunities related to the property’s history and restoration efforts. The visitor experience will include a higher level of development and accessibility. Opportunities for the nature based outdoor activities of hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking and cross country skiing will be provided as well as opportunities for biking, horseback riding, motorized use and a shooting range, picnic areas, viewing areas and a fishing pier. This alternative also projects selectively siting and constructing (through community partnerships) a new visitor center with interpretation and education opportunities; the center could also serve as a trailhead facility near the railroad corridor, which will serve as a designated recreation corridor in the future. Areas of grassland and shrub land compatible with low-impact recreation trails would be restored.
“As you can see, there is huge potential for this property as the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area and the property is capable of supporting multiple uses,” said Ryder Will. Will is the maintenance and satellite properties supervisor for Devil’s Lake State Park. He will take a more active role as the SPRA property manager when the gates open. “Finding the right blend of development and opportunity is important to us and we want to be sure everyone has a chance to weigh-in as we move forward. I hope to see folks at the open house or that they can find time to send us their comments if they can’t make it.”
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